Abrupt Change in Earth's Climate System

Posted: 10 Jan 2008

See all articles by Jonathan T. Overpeck

Jonathan T. Overpeck

University of Arizona - Department of Geosciences

Julia E. Cole

University of Arizona - Department of Geosciences

Abstract

Many aspects of Earth's climate system have changed abruptly in the past and are likely to change abruptly in the future. Although abrupt shifts in temperature are most dramatic in glacial climates, abrupt changes, resulting in an altered probability of drought, large floods, tropical storm landfall, and monsoon rainfall, are all important concerns even in the absence of significant anthropogenic climate forcing. Continued climate change will likely increase the probability of these types of abrupt change and also make abrupt changes in ocean circulation and sea level more likely. Although global warming may have already triggered abrupt change, current understanding and modeling capability is not sufficient to specify details of future abrupt climate change. Improved adaptation strategies are warranted, as well as efforts to avoid crossing climate change thresholds beyond which large abrupt changes in sea level, ocean circulation, and methane-clathrate release could greatly amplify the impacts of climate change.

Keywords: abrupt climate change, climate dynamics, global warming, paleoclimatology, paleoceanography

Suggested Citation

Overpeck, Jonathan T. and Cole, Julia E., Abrupt Change in Earth's Climate System. Annual Review of Environment and Resources, Vol. 31, November 2006. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1081456

Jonathan T. Overpeck (Contact Author)

University of Arizona - Department of Geosciences ( email )

Tucson, AZ 85721
United States

Julia E. Cole

University of Arizona - Department of Geosciences ( email )

Tucson, AZ 85721
United States

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